March 16th, 2014
08:30 AM ET
5 months ago

CNN Poll: Who's tougher: Clinton or Obama?

Washington (CNN) - Americans have a positive view of Hillary Clinton's personal characteristics that in many cases has only improved with time, and on some key measures of toughness and leadership skills, she scores higher than President Barack Obama, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/ORC International survey released Sunday indicates that most Americans consider the former secretary of state likable, honest, compassionate and admirable. Sixty four percent say she is tough enough to handle a crisis - 11 percentage points higher than the President. And an equal 64% describe Clinton as a strong and decisive leader - 14 points higher than the President.


Clinton gets her highest marks (68%) on likeability, and that number is up five points since 2007, as her 2008 bid for the White House was getting underway. Fifty-six percent say she shares their values - up six points from 2007. And 56% say she is honest and trustworthy - up five points.

But Americans also think she can handle the job of President. Nearly six in ten say Clinton can manage the government effectively, 55% believe she can get the economy moving again, and 61% say she has the right experience to be president.

If there is a weakness in the 13 items tested in the poll, it is the number of Americans who say they would be proud to have her as president. At 50%, it is the lowest score that Clinton received in the poll, and it is down seven points since her failed presidential bid in 2008.

"Obviously, there are big partisan divides on Hillary Clinton with most Republicans reluctant to say anything positive about her, and that suggests that views of her personal characteristics may sour once a presidential election gets underway. But right now, Clinton has a reservoir of goodwill that would be the envy of any potential presidential candidate," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Americans split on President as a leader

As for Obama, a majority of Americans say that the President is not a commanding presence on the world stage - 57% say that leaders of other countries no longer respect Obama.

Among the U.S. public, views of Obama's leadership skills are split right down the middle. Half think Obama has been a strong and decisive leader, with an equal 50% saying that description does not apply to Obama. There is also a roughly 50/50 split on whether Obama inspires confidence.

"Neither of those are great numbers for President Obama, but they represent a slight improvement over his standing in November, suggesting that the situation in Ukraine has not hurt his standing with the public," Holland added.

Fifty-three percent say he is tough enough to handle a crisis. The President gets his best ratings on likeability - 77% say he is likable - and his worst marks on his ability to manage the government.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International March 7-9, with 801 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.


Filed under: 2016 • CNN/ORC poll • Hillary Clinton • President Obama
soundoff (192 Responses)
  1. Chewy

    "Who's tougher: Clinton or Obama?"
    That's a tough one, Tinkerbell or Billary? Neither one has any credibility, but I would probably have to say Billary, because tinkerbell would just draft a strongly worded condemnation or draw another erasable Red Line. Billary will probable want to know what difference does it make.

    March 16, 2014 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. Gary

    OMG is this a presale or what. Our country has no respect left ,our President can't get our job creation,the Dems are still trying to sell the average guy a bag of crap. When are the Americans who pay all the taxes ,the real working man and women going to stop listen to the media and all the untruths that are tearing us down. We need new a new coach and management team period. Republican get off your dead asses and stand for the rights of the working guy and win back the Whitehouse and get jobs backs in this country. We will never resurface as aGreat Nation under DEMOCRATS and we can't afford to give away any more free reides. !

    March 16, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. Independent Thinker

    "I remember landing under sniper fire," she said in Washington on Monday. "There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."

    News footage of the event however showed her claims to have been wide of the mark, and reporters who accompanied her stated that there was no sniper fire. Her account was ridiculed by ABC News as "like a scene from Saving Private Ryan".

    Hillary IS TOUGH! I can't wait to hear how she personally disarmed snipers in Benghazi too!

    March 16, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  4. Independent Thinker

    I DO like the fact that Hillary looks like one of our famous statesmen: Ben Franklin.

    March 16, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  5. Independent Thinker

    Hillary PROVED she is tough! Remember how she protected our diplomatic corps in Benghazi?

    Oh....Well...'What Difference does it make?'

    March 16, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. jguy1957

    Why the Poll – keep her name in the news? What has she done good ever as Senator or Secretary of State? If she runs in 2016 she will be 69 and if she wins she would be in her 70's for most of her time in office. I am sorry but we have too many in office now that should be retired on both sides, and we need younger blood in office.

    March 16, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  7. eddhur

    i think she need to go home and play with the great grand children

    March 16, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  8. Akwo Eseme

    The polls between Clinton and Obama took place in 2008 and we know what it said. This poll is if of no use.

    March 16, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. Francisco Decastro

    If she performs like the last 8 years has been... I would vote for her. The economy did improve. At least it did in my household. Only difference is that Congress hated Obama so much that they didn't want to pass any of his bills. Maybe they will be more lenient with Hilary. But then again, Congress may be democratically run by then since states are turning more and more blue.

    March 16, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  10. Obvious

    Hillary is too old, too many scandals and way too white for the Democrats.

    March 16, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. henriette

    Tough indeed. Like her pal McCain, never saw a military intervention she didn't like. Well, except Rwanda, because not all genocide is terribly important.

    March 16, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  12. karl from az

    She was really tough on Benghazi, right?

    March 16, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  13. nik green

    A dynastic type of presidential line, whether Clinton, Bush or whatever other élite "Neo-Royal Family" you care to mention, is the LAST thing America needs. The Founding Fathers must be turning in their graves. Politicians are already divorced from their representatives, hijacked in DC by standing armies of corporate lobbyists, and to have a corporatocratic monarchical system will make we the people even less relevant than our current, degraded position.

    March 16, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  14. Dave

    You people are insane. Obama is not running for a 3rd term because nobody can serve more than 8 years as president. That means Hillary Clinton will be running against one of your candidates. Rand Paul or Chris Christie, most likely. You're so screwed.

    March 16, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. Me

    People bashing the president alone need to stop. There is too much party bickering for anything to get done and actually get passed into law. That is the problem. You can't get anything done if you aren't allowed to get it done by people not voting for the changes to happen or compromising. Congress passed the fewest bills in history in 2013.

    March 16, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. TheSadTruth

    Does America think it would be "fun" for a woman who was once first lady to be president? We thought having having elder Bush's son be president, so we elected him a few years back.

    I'm tired of having novelty being the deciding factor in elections.

    March 16, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  17. flyfysher

    GOP and the Tea Party are always unacceptable. Obama was lackluster and not a leader. Former First Lady of Arkansas and the United States. Senator and Secretary of State Clinton is definitely the best qualified person for the presidency.

    March 16, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  18. George

    My Tea Cup chihuahua is tougher then Obama. What's the point?

    March 16, 2014 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  19. Bea

    I think that as a politician Hillary IS tougher than Obama. She was also vastly more experienced in 2008 than he was, as she was on her second term as senator while Obama had only served two years of his first term. That is why I wanted her to win the nomination, experience does matter in life. Hillary had been used to dealing with Republicans since her days as first lady of Arkansas. She had also worked well in Congress with Republican senators, even with those who had voted to impeach her husband.

    I think that if she does choose to run again, she would make a good president. She's a middle of the road pragmatist who believes in getting things done, she likes actions not mere words. She would probably anger both ends of the political spectrum, as conservatives and liberals don't like her. That would be fine with me, most Americans are also middle of the road and consider themselves to be moderates.

    S

    March 16, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  20. Namesuperc

    She didn't look so tough when they were watching bin laden get killed, it seem like she didn't have the guts for it, and as for the economy who ever the next President is they will have a stable platform to get the economy over the top.

    March 16, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  21. Wade

    Then why did we elect Obama instead of Clinton?

    March 16, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  22. phil box

    America is screwed either way.

    March 16, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  23. Nancy

    And a bigger liar. If that's even possible.

    March 16, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. Jack Daniel

    @ Miguel.
    I can't speak for the liberals, but this moderate did vote for the most competent candidate: Obama. Compared to anything the Republicans offered, Obama walked on water. That's not praise for Obama; rather, it is an indictment of the sorry state of our political leadership.

    March 16, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  25. Chuk

    Really? She's next. She'd get a chance to prove that "toughness". Remember: "toughness" is theory isn't quit the same.
    All those who can't wait to get into another war – led by McCain – may get their chance. Unfortunately, they won't be in the forefront of a war fighting, just telling what should be done.

    March 16, 2014 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
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